Ironman Switzerland 2011

Posted: July 15, 2011 in Iron Man, Triathlon

It is almost a week after the race in Zurich and the dust is now starting to settle.

I have very mixed feelings about the race and to be honest am a little disappointed with how things went on the day.  But maybe I am being a little harsh on myself??
The race started pretty well.  I managed to position myself well for the start and after swimming hard for a few minutes I settled into what felt like a VERY easy pace. After the first lap I put in a 2-3 minute effort and quickly caught the group 50 meters in front of me.  At this point I made the call not to push on but to sit on the feet of this group.  I was swimming well within myself and came out of the water fresh in a slow time of 58 mins around 40th overall and 7th in my age group.  Looking at the times for the swim, I think all the swimmers were about 5mins slower than expected.  Looking back on it, this was the first ironman swim where I felt like I was not trying.  The question I have in the back of my mind is should I have put in some more effort and come out closer to the front?  Difficult to answer that one.
Out on the bike I felt solid and cruised along in the low 300 watt range for the first 30km around the lake.  This section was pancake flat and I spent very little time below 25mph.  I had passed a lot of people and think I was leading the age group race.  The course turned away from the lake and as I started the first climb of the day a pack of about 6 riders joined me at the front of the race.  I stayed with them for the climb but due to my nervous descending lost the group as we headed back down towards the lake.  No too worried about this I started the second climb of the day up ‘the beast’ holding around 350-360 watts.  At this stage of the race things were looking good.  Again I descended back to the lake slowly and was happy to be on the flat cruising at the low 300 watt range again.
I finished lap one and was averaging 300 watts but had only managed a 2hr 27min lap time.  The second lap started well but as I hit the first climb I started to get stomach issues which caused me to have to back the pace off.  It also meant I could not really take on the nutrition I needed.  Combine that with the heat of the day and that equals an unhappy Chris.  I made it around the reminder of the second lap,  but not in a great state.  I was a good 12 minutes slower on the second lap.  Nonetheless I came into T2 21st overall and 3rd in my age group.  I had averaged 283 watts, which was about 35 watts more than the Ironman in Cozumel so all things considered not to shabby.  It just goes to show that hilly courses are not really playing to my strengths!!  Put me on a flat course with that power and things would be very different out there.
Anyway, on the run things did not really start well.  I was quickly passed by about 10 people and running way below par.  This made it very hard to stay positive, but I just I tried to ignore all of this.  I have blown up too many times out on the run of an Ironman.
I managed to maintain a constant pace, albeit a very slow 5mins/km, but was low on calories due to the stomach problems out on the bike and the heat was starting to get to me.  After the first 8 km I picked up some ice packs from Carli and placed them on my forearms under my arm coolers.  The effect was amazing and my pace jumped from 5mins/km to 4mins 30secs/km (what should be my race pace) almost instantly.  The ice packs melted pretty quickly and as my core temperature rose again so my pace dropped back to 5mins/km.  I struggled on through the next lap still maintaining the same slow pace unable to keep my temperature down.  I was not in a great place.  At this point things were really starting to get to me and I was getting more and more pissed off with ever step. THEN THE RAIN CAME.  I could feel my temperature dropping and as it did back came my energy.  I had about 12km left on the run and I just felt angry with how things had gone over the day.  It was at this point, that I decided I would just run hard and see how long I could hold on for.  Not expecting to last very long.  This is where I surprised my self.  I was running at around 4mins 20sec/km pace with a kind of aggression unlike anything I have experienced in a Ironman.  And as the rain came down harder, so my pace picked up further.  I was loving the rain!!  In the last few km my pace dropped below 4mins/km pace and I was starting to pass people like they were standing still.  My aggression had slowly lifted over the last 40mins and I had the Rocky sound tracking rolling through my brain.  For the first time in ages I was in a good place.  My final run time was 3hrs 25mins.  Again not what I had been hoping but that being said it was awesome to finish the race so strongly.
I crossed the line in a 9hrs 33mins.  I was 36th overall and 7th in my age group.  It had been a tough day and I had mixed feelings about the overall result.  I felt disappointed with my biking on the day.  I was a good 12 minutes slower on the second lap and those stomach problems really made taking on the calories hard to do.  It also meant that going into the run I was is a much worse state than normal and it is very hard to recover from a situation like that.  What I was really please with was the way I had managed to hold it together out on the run and especially with the form I managed to regain for the last 10km.
Going into the race my form had suggested good things.  But as is the way in Ironman racing so many things have to come together for that to translate into a good result.  I felt that I was about 20 minutes off where I would have liked to have been.  Having said all that, if you look at the stats, my power output was 35 watts higher than it was in Ironman Cozumel and my run time was still a good 7 minutes faster.  So I guess it was a better performance, it was just the caliber of athletes were better in Zurich than Mexico.  Something you would probably expect.
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